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Harbinger
2013-10-12, 08:56 PM
So my character is a gnoll ranger who lives in the woods and hates organized society and technology. He's basically a rabid animal meets eco-terrorist. Sounds pretty Chaotic, right? But he follows a personal code, which muddles things a meet. The first part of that code is basically "Be Chaotic", though. The rest is, for the most part, "Don't kill for pleasure" and "Undead are icky". I know he's Evil, but is he Lawful because of his code, or Chaotic because of his being a man-eating anarchist?

Scow2
2013-10-12, 08:59 PM
Chaotic Evil. That 'code' is more a general set of guidelines.

Angel Bob
2013-10-12, 09:15 PM
I'd say Chaotic, but keep in mind that Neutral Evil is an option. Your alignment isn't either/or on the Law/Chaos axis.

TuggyNE
2013-10-12, 09:22 PM
Chaotic with a small portion of self-deception framed as Lawful.

Benthesquid
2013-10-12, 09:26 PM
Since Law and Chaos are somewhat confusingly defined, it's really up to each player to determine, in concert with their GM, what it means and how important it is. That said, I've generally found the following guidelines helpful.

Lawful characters are concerned with systems.
Chaotic characters are concerned with individuals.

For example- a Lawful Good character, confronted with an evil overlord, might say, "This man is creating a system of oppression. Something must be done."

A chaotic character, confronted with the same situation, might instead say, "This man is oppressing the people of this first farm I encountered within his kingdom. Something must be done."

This is not to say that Lawful characters are incapable of sympathizing with an individual's plight, nor that chaotic characters are incapable of seeing the larger picture in a given situation. Just that that tends to be the lens through which they initially view a situation. Keep in mind that a Lawful Character is not necessarily a creature of pure Law any more than a Good Creature is necessarily on par with the Angels and an Evil Character may be far less depraved than a demon (and, you know, same deal with chaos). The degree to which a lawful or chaotic good character may be okay with a system that does evil to some individuals while doing a greater amount of good to all comes down to the individual player, with input as needed from the GM.

Now, let's see how that would apply to your character. As an evil character, he'll probably be more concerned with himself than others.

If he hates organized society because he feels that it interferes with him (and even others) acting as he/they wish(es), and he would like it to crumble so he can do as he pleases, he's probably chaotic.

If he hates organized society and wants to tear it down because he feels he could replace it with a system that suits him better (even if that system is a "Everyone worships me and gives me lots and lots of presentsocracy") he's probably Lawful.

Just my take on it.

ReaderAt2046
2013-10-12, 09:41 PM
The way I personally call it is: Lawful Good acknowledges that laws may be wrong, but if so they should be changed peacefully and legally if at all possible. Chaotic Good believes that laws should be followed if they happen to align with Good and be ignored/broken otherwise. Lawful Neutral believes that the Law is the most important thing in the universe and should never be broken or changed. Chaotic Neutral believes that laws should be ignored unless you feel like following them. Lawful Evil knows that laws may be inconvenient, but if so they should be worked around or manipulated. Chaotic Evil believes that laws can be broken if they happen to conflict with your depraved desires.

RochtheCrusher
2013-10-12, 09:45 PM
I would say he's Chaotic... everyone has rules, unless they're completely nuts. Like, to the point that they can't use any approximation of syntax.

Likewise, maybe Darth Malevous wouldn't kill his own kin... which is a good trait. However, it still leaves PLENTY of room for him to be Evil.

Harbinger
2013-10-12, 10:11 PM
If he hates organized society because he feels that it interferes with him (and even others) acting as he/they wish(es), and he would like it to crumble so he can do as he pleases, he's probably chaotic.

If he hates organized society and wants to tear it down because he feels he could replace it with a system that suits him better (even if that system is a "Everyone worships me and gives me lots and lots of presentsocracy") he's probably Lawful.

Yeah, by that guideline, he's definitely Chaotic, since the whole reason he dislikes society as a whole is because his nomadic tribe kicked him out because of his preying on the human villages in their area.

He doesn't want to replace society with anything else, not even a tribal hierarchy, just a kill-or-be-killed, every-man-for-himself sort of thing.

Libertad
2013-10-12, 10:55 PM
The Law-Chaos axis underwent several definitions in D&D's various iterations, so it depends upon what Edition you're playing.

By Original and Basic D&D definitions, you are Chaotic for being an untrustworthy bad guy.

By 1st Edition definitions, you'd be either Neutral Evil or Chaotic Evil.

2nd Edition you'd be Chaotic Evil.

3rd Edition depends upon your character's recklessness and self-control.

4th Edition depends upon whether your character sees any inherent value in laws.

The Glyphstone
2013-10-12, 11:33 PM
"...And thirdly, the Gnoll Ranger's Code is more like guidelines, anyways, than actual rules.":smallcool:

TuggyNE
2013-10-12, 11:35 PM
He doesn't want to replace society with anything else, not even a tribal hierarchy, just a kill-or-be-killed, every-man-for-himself sort of thing.

That right there makes him essentially the poster child for CE.

inexorabletruth
2013-10-13, 12:20 AM
Lawful characters tell the truth, keep their word, respect authority, honor tradition, and judge those who fall short of their duties. Chaotic characters follow their consciences, resent being told what to do, favor new ideas over tradition, and do what they promise if they feel like it.

You're definitely Chaotic.

The LNC axis is a political axis, not a moral axis. Your tendency to reject authority and prefer to ignore social pressure to follow the code of your own conscience (even if your conscience is telling you to two bad things) makes you hardcore Chaotic.

The GNE axis covers moral issues, particularly pertaining to your opinions about the worth of another person/creature's life:

Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.

I'm going to say that you fit more into the category of CN or CG. Since you believe that it is wrong to kill for pleasure. The extent to which you believe this determines your moral alignment. If you're neutral, you'll refuse to participate in pleasure killing. If you're good, you'll actively go out of your way to prevent others from pleasure killing.

oudeis
2013-10-13, 01:08 AM
First off, I want to say that it's refreshing to read so many well-reasoned, well-written opinions on a topic like this, especially in light of the tenor of some of the other threads on this board. :sigh:

As for your gnoll ranger, I have to say this is one of the more complex characters I've seen. I would lean towards calling him a chaotic good with extremist tendencies, or perhaps a chaotic neutral moral relativist. He doesn't take pleasure in killing humans, he's simply by nature inclined to find them tasty. Someone who hunts game animals for both meat and sport is different than some scumbag who likes to get drunk and ambush animals just for the thrill of killing.

If he were to persist in his habits after learning the Important Life LessonTM that 'Gosh, I guess Humans are People too :smallredface:' then I'd say he was definitely chaotic evil.

TuggyNE
2013-10-13, 01:25 AM
As for your gnoll ranger, I have to say this is one of the more complex characters I've seen. I would lean towards calling him a chaotic good with extremist tendencies, or perhaps a chaotic neutral moral relativist. He doesn't take pleasure in killing humans, he's simply by nature inclined to find them tasty. Someone who hunts game animals for both meat and sport is different than some scumbag who likes to get drunk and ambush animals just for the thrill of killing.

If he were to persist in his habits after learning the Important Life LessonTM that 'Gosh, I guess Humans are People too :smallredface:' then I'd say he was definitely chaotic evil.

Problem with this is that D&D alignment doesn't care whether you realize someone is a person: all that matters is how you treat those who are, in fact, people.
Good characters and creatures protect innocent life. Evil characters and creatures debase or destroy innocent life, whether for fun or profit.

"Good" implies altruism, respect for life, and a concern for the dignity of sentient beings. Good characters make personal sacrifices to help others.

"Evil" implies hurting, oppressing, and killing others. Some evil creatures simply have no compassion for others and kill without qualms if doing so is convenient. Others actively pursue evil, killing for sport or out of duty to some evil deity or master.
[]
Being good or evil can be a conscious choice. For most people, though, being good or evil is an attitude that one recognizes but does not choose. Being neutral on the good-evil axis usually represents a lack of commitment one way or the other, but for some it represents a positive commitment to a balanced view. While acknowledging that good and evil are objective states, not just opinions, these folk maintain that a balance between the two is the proper place for people, or at least for them.

Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral rather than good or evil. Even deadly vipers and tigers that eat people are neutral because they lack the capacity for morally right or wrong behavior.

The underlined sections are those that seem most apropos. Note that, while a creature incapable of moral agency gets a free pass on alignment, you don't get a free pass on alignment if you (wrongly) consider some other creature to be lacking in moral agency. Note also that alignment usually isn't a conscious choice, and isn't necessarily recognized at all.

oudeis
2013-10-13, 02:20 AM
Hmm, interesting points. I consider alignment an incredibly crude tool and an inherently flawed mechanic in the first place, so I tend to ignore it as a player and exclude it as a GM.

inexorabletruth
2013-10-13, 02:42 AM
Hmm, interesting points. I consider alignment an incredibly crude tool and an inherently flawed mechanic in the first place, so I tend to ignore it as a player and exclude it as a GM.

That depends entirely on how it's used. As a roleplaying guideline, I find it's incredibly useful, especially if you're playing someone who is morally and politically so different from yourself. Even when I play in campaigns where the DM bans alignment I still use it to help focus my RP and stay in character. That way, if my character strays from his/her chosen alignment, it'll be because of in-story circumstances that evolved the character over time, and not because I derailed the character into a fantasy extension of myself.

However, as a "no, your paladin can't have a drinking problem because he's lawful good" way of forcing behavior onto a player is a form of godmodding that I can't condone.

I'm dredging up memories here: when I played a middle-aged paladin with PTSD who drank to forget the horrors of war. This led to alcohol dependency, which he was constantly struggling to overcome. I felt the weakness added a depth to my character, but the DM thought it made my pally Chaotic and therefore couldn't use his powers unless I rewrote the backstory to not include the drinking problem. I could've played a paladin of freedom and been done with it, but my pally was a loyal servant of his king and fiercely lawful. It would've been the wrong build for the character! *pout*

Harbinger
2013-10-13, 08:49 PM
First off, I want to say that it's refreshing to read so many well-reasoned, well-written opinions on a topic like this, especially in light of the tenor of some of the other threads on this board. :sigh:

As for your gnoll ranger, I have to say this is one of the more complex characters I've seen. I would lean towards calling him a chaotic good with extremist tendencies, or perhaps a chaotic neutral moral relativist. He doesn't take pleasure in killing humans, he's simply by nature inclined to find them tasty. Someone who hunts game animals for both meat and sport is different than some scumbag who likes to get drunk and ambush animals just for the thrill of killing.

If he were to persist in his habits after learning the Important Life LessonTM that 'Gosh, I guess Humans are People too :smallredface:' then I'd say he was definitely chaotic evil.

I'm quite flattered that you think my character is so complex. Moral complexity was part of what I was going for when I thought him up. That said, I think he definitely realizes that humans are people too, and doesn't care. In the setting he lives in, gnolls are more neutral nomadic types who don't generally eat sapient creatures, so he's definitely morally responsible for his actions, it's not the fault of his culture. The only reason this character doesn't generally eat other gnolls is because humans are easier to kill and would have a tougher time tracking him down.

As a side note, I'm quite proud that my little question has spawned such a nice moral/alignment debate.


I'm going to say that you fit more into the category of CN or CG. Since you believe that it is wrong to kill for pleasure. The extent to which you believe this determines your moral alignment. If you're neutral, you'll refuse to participate in pleasure killing. If you're good, you'll actively go out of your way to prevent others from pleasure killing.

Well, he doesn't go out of his way to stop people from pleasure killing. If he had a chance to prevent it, he would probably try to stop it from happening. Note that he would most likely try to stop it by killing the person doing the pleasure killing and eating his/her corpse. Also note that he has no problem killing sentient beings for food, killing for revenge, cannibalism, killing for acquisition of resources, etc.

oudeis
2013-10-13, 10:56 PM
Well, you didn't mention any of this in the OP. Based on this new info he's a bat**** insane sociopath with a hypocritical streak a mile wide who knowingly and willfully wallows in his own narcissistic self-absorption. I'm changing my vote to Chaotic Neutral. Just because he has some personal standards doesn't make him at all lawful. Does he hate the undead because they are abominations against nature or because their stink hurts his delicate nose and you can't even eat them after they're dead?

tasw
2013-10-13, 11:05 PM
So my character is a gnoll ranger who lives in the woods and hates organized society and technology. He's basically a rabid animal meets eco-terrorist. Sounds pretty Chaotic, right? But he follows a personal code, which muddles things a meet. The first part of that code is basically "Be Chaotic", though. The rest is, for the most part, "Don't kill for pleasure" and "Undead are icky". I know he's Evil, but is he Lawful because of his code, or Chaotic because of his being a man-eating anarchist?

Chaotic. Chaotics can have a moral code, they just dont feel obligated to follow any one elses moral code.

dps
2013-10-13, 11:49 PM
Based off the original post, I was thinking Chaotic Neutral, but given the further information we've been giving, I'd say the character is Chaotic Evil.

inexorabletruth
2013-10-14, 12:49 AM
Well, he doesn't go out of his way to stop people from pleasure killing. If he had a chance to prevent it, he would probably try to stop it from happening. Note that he would most likely try to stop it by killing the person doing the pleasure killing and eating his/her corpse. Also note that he has no problem killing sentient beings for food, killing for revenge, cannibalism, killing for acquisition of resources, etc.

Honestly, I'm still not going to put him hard into CE. Killing sentient beings for food is not an entirely evil act. Sentience is defined as the ability to have subjective perceptual experiences. Squirrels, pigs, cephalopods, cats and dogs are all used as food in IRL cultures and are considered to be sentient and highly intelligent creatures, yet conventional society does not condemn the humane slaughter of pigs or cephalopods for consumption. The fact that he takes no pleasure in the kill, and uses the meat for food implies that he's not psychopathic.

That said, you could probably put him in CN or CE, depending on the motivations behind his kills. If he kills someone because he is defending and rescuing a victim of torture, then subsequently decides that it's best not to waste the meat, then you could argue that he's CN. If he remorselessly slaughters paladins and murderers alike because meat is meat... he's a sociopath, and therefore evil.

Regardless, his alignment is likely to evolve a lot from level to level.

tasw
2013-10-14, 12:53 AM
Honestly, I'm still not going to put him hard into CE. Killing sentient beings for food is not an entirely evil act. Sentience is defined as the ability to have subjective perceptual experiences. Squirrels, pigs, cephalopods, cats and dogs are all used as food in IRL cultures and are considered to be sentient and highly intelligent creatures, yet conventional society does not condemn the humane slaughter of pigs or cephalopods for consumption. The fact that he takes no pleasure in the kill, and uses the meat for food implies that he's not psychopathic.

Regardless, his alignment is likely to evolve a lot from level to level.

This begs the question though if a pig or octopus could literally beg you for its life in a language you understand and you callously killed and ate it anyway would that change whether its evil or not?

because humans, elves, etc can do exactly that.

Harbinger
2013-10-14, 01:29 AM
Well, you didn't mention any of this in the OP. Based on this new info he's a bat**** insane sociopath with a hypocritical streak a mile wide who knowingly and willfully wallows in his own narcissistic self-absorption. I'm changing my vote to Chaotic Neutral. Just because he has some personal standards doesn't make him at all lawful. Does he hate the undead because they are abominations against nature or because their stink hurts his delicate nose and you can't even eat them after they're dead?

That's a pretty strong reaction. I'm glad my creation can inspire such emotions in people. :smallbiggrin:

He hates undead primarily because of the first reason, though the second certainly has a decent role in it. He's also scared of them, he doesn't understand how a dead thing can still walk and (sometimes) talk.


Honestly, I'm still not going to put him hard into CE. Killing sentient beings for food is not an entirely evil act. Sentience is defined as the ability to have subjective perceptual experiences. Squirrels, pigs, cephalopods, cats and dogs are all used as food in IRL cultures and are considered to be sentient and highly intelligent creatures, yet conventional society does not condemn the humane slaughter of pigs or cephalopods for consumption. The fact that he takes no pleasure in the kill, and uses the meat for food implies that he's not psychopathic.

That said, you could probably put him in CN or CE, depending on the motivations behind his kills. If he kills someone because he is defending and rescuing a victim of torture, then subsequently decides that it's best not to waste the meat, then you could argue that he's CN. If he remorselessly slaughters paladins and murderers alike because meat is meat... he's a sociopath, and therefore evil.

Regardless, his alignment is likely to evolve a lot from level to level.

He doesn't necessarily not take pleasure in the kill. What he has a problem with is killing someone because you think it'd be fun, not taking pleasure in the hunt. That said, he doesn't take pleasure in the creatures suffering, but rather the primal act of hunting something down, overpowering it, and killing it.

He's also just as likely to kill and eat a Lawful Good paladin or an orphan child as he is to kill and eat a mass murderer.

As for the matter of weather eating humans can be compared to eating those other creatures you mentioned, I think it's important to note that, while those animals are very intelligent, people are a lot moreso. We can also communicate with other people, and we can't with a squid or pig.

inexorabletruth
2013-10-14, 01:35 AM
He's also just as likely to kill and eat a Lawful Good paladin or an orphan child as he is to kill and eat a mass murderer.

Ding ding ding! Looks like we have a winner! Chaotic Evil, my friend. :smallbiggrin:

Harbinger
2013-10-14, 01:38 AM
Ding ding ding! Looks like we have a winner! Chaotic Evil, my friend. :smallbiggrin:

:smallsmile: Yeah, I thought so.

veti
2013-10-14, 05:05 PM
Based off the original post, I was thinking Chaotic Neutral, but given the further information we've been giving, I'd say the character is Chaotic Evil.

This.

Making a point of not killing for pleasure implies a degree of "respect for life". Indeed, "undead are icky" may also imply a latent "respect for dignity of sentient beings", if it's because you don't like seeing their bodies abused in that way.

On the other hand, the cannibalism and petty murder described in your followup pretty much tips him into CE.